Dominating Ceret and the Tech valley high on a hillside and roughly 4.5 kms from Ceret stands the old hermitage of San Ferreol. First built in the 13th century, the chapel was rebuilt in the 1600's. Looks as if it has been renovated since in 2004, going by the date on the sundial. Now only open on Sundays for visits, there is a pilgrimage in September. Check at the T.O. in Ceret for exact date. Details of the office below.
Even when not open there is plenty of space to come up here for a picnic, or a moments solitude.
The priory is reached by a tiny twisting track off of the road between Ille sur Tet and Amelie les Bains. It is very well marked from either direction. It is a classic example of Catalan/Roman architecture ; very sober lines and massive walls in schist. Founded in 1082, it was enlarged a century later. The priory declined from the 1300's onwards until renovations started after WWII.
Inside, the gallery in pink marble takes the breath away, caught in the chiaroscuro or half -light.
The 4th photo shows the detail of the lion of St. Mark carrying a book, and to his right also carrying a book is the eagle of St. John.
We love to wander down the small narrow streets and alleyways of towns like Céret. They often open up into squares surrounded by brightly painted houses.
In one of these we came across this memory of the French Resistance Movement - a sombre reminder of the recent past.
The town is expanding and new developments just outside the "old town" are springing up rapidly.
It is worth taking your time to wander around the maze of streets within what remains of the city walls.
We came across the old Church just as a funeral was about to begin.
It was very moving to observe the way friends, neighbours and villagers just turned up as the bell tolled to attend the service and pay their respects to the departed. No fuss , no dressing up just respect and friendship.
If you want a different kind of experience in a very pretty place, you don't have to look far. The area is very agricultural with lots of farms and markets and many have their doors open to students or volunteers who want a different kind of life for their school vacations. Farm stays allow you to learn a lot about farming (most of the time organic farming), meet people from all over europe (in my case I'm from the Philippines, and it was the first tiem for a lot i've met to meet a Filipina), and have the freshest garden fruits and veggies, rough it up, live in teepees or caravans, and have the fete all night long!